Topics: Monthly financial statement; Parliament House culture;
Will Goodings: South Australian Senator Simon Birmingham joins us. Senator, good morning to you.
Simon Birmingham: Good morning. How are you, guys?
Will Goodings: We’re well, you’re set to release a series of updated financial statements today. What will we learn about the state of the Australian economy?
Simon Birmingham: The Australian economy continues to show incredible strength. And we’ve seen Australia bounce back to a position where we’ve got more people in jobs today than we had back in March of 2020, which is virtually unheard of in any developed economy around the world to have recovered employment that quickly. And it’s flowing through to the budget that our budget deficit year-to-date is tracking at some 23 billion dollars less than had been expected. And now 134 billion dollar deficit is still huge in anybody’s language, the biggest in our peacetime history. But it does show that getting more people into work is translating in lower social safety net payment, more Australian taxpayers. And that is that is achieving the type of improvement you’d hoped to see.
David Penberthy: Birmo, on in your capacity as minister for finance. You’re also responsible for parliamentary standards has discussions have been held about whether alcohol should be banned or potentially its availability limited at Parliament House?
Simon Birmingham: Penbo, I certainly made clear earlier in the week my view, nobody should be intoxicated in the building and there are a lot of different functions and events, as you know, held by charities, by businesses, by other organisations in the building throughout the course of the year and in a range of different settings. And so the service of meals and drinks is commonplace. But I’m pretty clear in the view that there’s no room for intoxication or anything that amounts, frankly, to inappropriate workplace conduct.
David Penberthy: Hmm. Yeah. Just in terms of the last week, I, I know you I’ve seen you with your family at Crows functions. I know you’re a decent bloke, but it just feels tawdry. Everything that’s been happening in Parliament feels tawdry right now. How do you and some of the texts that we get on the show, just people just shaking their heads about some of the revelations. You’ve had to have dealings with the guy who blew the whistle on these foul practises that were documented the other night. I understand you spoke to him yesterday. Is that correct?
Simon Birmingham: Look, my chief of staff has had engagements in relation to the investigation, I’ve been having discussions with others in relation to the investigation. I think I know where you’re going with this, those of us who are elected are put there to serve and to do a job and we have to take whatever circumstances are thrown at us. I didn’t put my hand up to go to serve in parliament to necessarily deal with the type of issues that have come out in the last few weeks. But it’s my job and that’s what we’ve got to get on and do and focus on. It does concern me, though, that the type of issues we’ve seen have left many of the staff who’ve come to work this week feeling almost ashamed to be working in the place. And I know that whether they’re liberal or labor, independent or greens, they’re overwhelmingly good, hard working people who want to do the right thing by our country and who put their hand up to do these jobs. Jobs with long hours and a lot of time away from their families, too. And they should feel pride in working in our nation’s parliament, not shame. And we need them to feel pride because we want to attract the best and brightest to do it. And so that’s why we’re not going to tolerate the type of things that we’ve seen. Somebody lost their job on Monday night. Others will, if that’s what it comes to pass. But we also have to make sure that all of the standards to the best possible example for the nation, and I think that’s exactly what Australians should expect of their parliament.
David Penberthy: Sorry to jump in there. Birmo, I was just gonna ask if more of these things are established as factual, then more people will lose their jobs?
Simon Birmingham: If the same sorts of things have occurred by anybody else, as has occurred by the guy who lost his job on Monday night, then there will be the same outcome.
David Penberthy: And just finally and quickly, an affirmative action rule, yes or no?
Simon Birmingham: Yes, in terms of the fact that we need to make sure there are more women. It’s how you go about doing it. And I think the SA Liberal Party has turned a corner lately In the last 12 months we’ve selected our candidates for the next state election in the upper house. Six out of seven are women. We had two extra spots on the Senate ticket to fill both going to women. The seats of Schubert and Frome, both safe Liberal seats with openings, both going to women. I think, in fact, around 80 per cent of winnable seats in the last 12 months that have been preselected have been filled by women. And my expectation is that the party needs to maintain that sort of trajectory to get an even balance. I don’t know that we need rule changes right now in SA when we’re seeing the outcomes being achieved, but we’ve got to make sure those outcomes continue.
Will Goodings: Senator Simon Birmingham, Minister for Finance, thanks for joining us this morning on five double.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks, guys. My pleasure.